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What are the Consequences of Caring for my Elderly Parents?

caring for an elderly parent
By Kathryn Parks

When deciding whether you will take on most of the caregiving responsibilities for your elderly parents, there are many factors to consider. When you choose to become a caregiver for someone you love, spending extra time with them can be a gift. Additionally, growing close to a parent you may have lost touch with over time can be wonderful. On the other hand, taking on the added responsibility can leave you feeling stressed out and exhausted, which may lead to feelings of resentment and guilt. Are you wondering what the consequences might be if you choose to care for your elderly parents? Let’s discuss some advantages, disadvantages, and potential solutions.

Advantages of Caring for Your Elderly Parents

The list of advantages is probably a little different for everyone. However, it stands to reason that most individuals who choose to help their parents age in place report the following advantages:

  • Increased Awareness – It is difficult to know what is happening if you aren’t there. One advantage of helping to care for your elderly parent is increased awareness. This includes being in the know about things that are going on in their lives that have the potential to impact their health, including doctors’ visits and social excursions.
  • Renewed Purpose – If there is something that you can feel passionate about, it is probably your parent. Many individuals who take on the care of their elderly parent report a renewed sense of purpose. This feeling occurs because you know that your tasks are impacting your loved one significantly, which seems to be a great thing.
  • Family Ties – When caring for your parent, a particular bond is built, maintained, and even strengthened. Not only will your relationship with your parent be better, but also extended family relationships as well, since you’ll inevitably help your parent plan holidays, get togethers, and more. Additionally, others usually follow suit when one family member decides to care for a loved one.
  • Saves Money – This may seem like an obvious advantage when caring for your elderly parents, but it isn’t always on the top of everyone’s mind. Honestly, though, the longer you can assist in caring for your elderly parent, the longer they can age at home, which means the family saves quite a bit of money. Provided, of course, that they can do so safely.

Individuals also often see less of a decline in health when their loved one is actively involved in current family events. When caring for your elderly parents at home, you’ll always want to consider whether it is in your parent’s best interest and yourself. While it can be quite an enjoyable experience to bond with and care for your parent in their final years, it can also be somewhat of a burden.

Disadvantages of Caring for Your Elderly Parents

Just like caring for an additional child, there is a certain level of responsibility that can burden family caregivers. The disadvantages of caring for your elderly parents are mostly centered around caregiver burnout. Anyone can do something for a short period, but doing anything for an extended time without respite can lead to definite burnout. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to the downside of caring for your elderly parents:

  • Added Stress – Depending on the current list of things on your to-do list, such as work, children, and community responsibilities, caring for an elderly parent can add quite a bit of stress to your daily life.
  • Decreased Health – Many caregivers report being short on time, leading to skipping meals, sleeping less, and not paying attention to health issues. Caring for your elderly parent at home can negatively affect your health and well-being if you aren't careful.
  • Guilt and Resentment – It may not be a big deal if you miss your daughter’s dance recital because you’re taking your mom to the doctor once. Missing out on many life events, though, can lead to feelings of resentment towards your loved one, which leads to guilt. Balancing responsibilities becomes a necessary skill when you’re caring for your elderly parent at home.

Compromises and Solutions to Help

Even though many children understand that there are many disadvantages to caring for their loved ones, they still go out of their way to try because it can be a wonderful experience. As many caregiving websites will tell you, there is a way to balance the disadvantages so that you don’t experience caregiver burnout. You can take advantage of all the benefits of caring for your elderly parent. Here are some compromises and solutions to help:

  • Make a Schedule and Get Help – You already have quite a few responsibilities; if you’re adding something to the list, a schedule can help. This allows you to plan so that you don’t miss anything important. Also, if there are neighbors, friends, and other family members, creating a schedule and assigning tasks can help spread the responsibility out so that it isn’t quite as much of a burden as it could be.
  • Remember “Me” Time – You can’t care for anyone else if you aren’t able to care for yourself. Make sure that you set aside to do something for yourself every day. This can be as simple as a bubble bath, an uninterrupted episode of your favorite comedy, or an hour at your favorite coffee shop. “Me” time allows you to de-stress, relax, and focus.
  • Maintain Your Health – Whether you investigate meal prepping or boxed and prepared foods, make sure you are doing what you can to avoid skipping meals. Many caregivers ignore their yearly doctor’s visits and make sure that this is just as much of a priority as anything else; it can help you maintain your health so that you can continue to help others.
  • Journal, Meditate, Talk – Find a way to recharge your mind. This can include journaling, doing yoga, or spending time walking every day. Some family caregivers find it helpful to have a close friend or relative to whom they can talk to relieve pressure and find sympathy. Find something that works for you and make it a part of your routine; it will help.
  • Consider Compromise – You don’t have to do everything there is to do for your elderly parent. Not only can friends and other family members help, but programs are available to help with social events, rides to the clinic, and more. You can even hire assistance for a few hours of relief daily or weekly.

Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Ellicott City is here for you. Providing our clients with compassionate and professional assistance is always a privilege. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.